Category Archives: Writing Tools

Scrivener – One Writing Tool to Rule Them All?


** I am in no way affiliated with Scrivener or it’s makers. I am simply a fan of good software **

As a software developer by trade I’m a big fan of finding any utility that aids in making my writing process more efficient. I’ve mentioned StoryBook in a previous post, but now I’m heavy into draft two I’m now testing the excellent tool, Scrivener, in order to make it less painful.

Now, I tried Scrivener previously and just couldn’t get into it. I couldn’t see what benefits it gave me over my tried and tested method of using Word for the main draft (plus copious use of the excellent commenting function) plus an accompanying synopsis/outline and my StoryBook plan.

Anyway, I tried Scrivener again after reading more and more positive feedback about it, and I’m glad to say I did. Why do I like it? Well, the main thing, and this is massive for me, especially now I’ve got a 100,000 word doc sat in front of me, is the ability to break chapters down into a scenes as separate files. As I chop and change the order of the narrative and make my edits, it’s as easy as moving the files around as required. There’s also the cork board functionality  which simulates the old index cards for scene planning. Again, this is easy to manipulate as you sort out the structure of your novel, or just put together placeholder cards for “scenes you know you need”.

There’s a lot more to it, as I’m still finding out. There’re options to held research information, character and location notes etc. The learning curve isn’t too bad, and there’s some excellent tutorials there to help you get started.

Negatives? Well, it’s not free, but there’s a 30 day trial where days are only used up as you use the tool. There’s a good discount on the app store for the iOS version but the windows version is $40, so not too bad in the grand scheme of things.

I’m still working through it, and the hardest bit was copying my book into Scrivener and splitting the work out into separate scenes. It’s easy to do, but with hindsight it would be better to have started in Scrivener from the off.

You could also say that all of this is doable with existing tools – You write your WIP in separate Word files, similar to Scrivener. You could use separate note applications (OneNote, EverNote etc) for other things like locations, characters and so forth. I think what Scrivener does well though is put all of this into one all encompassing package that keeps it all together.

I haven’t found anything else negative yet – although I’m still to test exporting back to Word when my work is done. I will come back and report on that when I get there. Hopefully it will still be a positive experience 🙂

Do any of you fine fellows use Scrivener? What’s your experience been using this tool? At the end of the day as long I get the text written down I’m happy, but anything that helps me along the way is a good thing to me…

Novel Outline (Manuscript – Act – Chapter – Scene)


Cork Board


Inspirational music to help find the muse

I’m a fan of sharing the knowledge, be it tools to help writing, benefits of my (limited) experience of just links to writing-related tips, news or other nuggets.

Today it’s the turn of the music. I personally find it beneficial to listen to music whilst writing, it seems to help me tune in a little more emotionally to what I’m trying to write, especially when the scene is particularly evocative.

So, today’s sharing is EpicMusicVn. This talented group of editors have compiled an excellent series of music compilations on YouTube that really serve to inspire, motivate and just simply help visualize what I’m writing about. I don’t watch the videos as such, just listen to the music and type away.

Check them out anyway, hopefully someone will get the same benefit I have.





Novel Structure Cheat Sheets


I’ve added this link to my blog roll but also as a post. I found it via a link from reddit a few weeks ago but only really got round to looking at it now. For me and my inherent lack of planning skills I’ve found some of these templates very useful for checking my beats, structure etc. In fact I’m using one right now to go through my current WIP to check I’m on the right lines.

I know there’s no hard and fast rules about plot and story structure, but for me, with this being my first “properly edited” novel, I’ve found adhering, even loosely, to some kind of framework very helpful.

There’s a few here, kudos to Jami (@JamiGold) for doing this 🙂


Useful Tools for Plotting your Novel

I’m sure everyone has their own methods of keeping notes, maintaining outlines etc when constructing their novel.  Here I share mine.

(Note these aren’t word processors,  just tools to aid in structuring your novel)

One piece of freeware I use is Storybook.  It’s an all round story planning tool for Windows that let’s you construct strands, scenes, chapters, characters, locations etc all in a nice user interface.  It’s free, but ensure you do the “custom”  install when you do it so you don’t get any annoying installs along with it.

The second one is on I used on my iPhone for mobile work.  I will add that for mobile work nowadays  I’m more working on Google docs so I can sync across devices, then add back to Storybook later on, but for a time this was my “go to” app.

Anyway this second app has similar options as Storybook, with plotting, scene, character templates etc. It’s not as feature rich as Storybook but I have found us useful for initial story modelling exercises.

So, what do you folks use, if anything? I’ve found that just plain notes doesn’t work for my disorganised brain,  and I need some assistance in putting a structure together.